Is it Holiday Cringe Time?

by Carole Hodges

The holidays are just a few weeks away.

Do you feel panicked, or excited? Are you experiencing joy, or depression? Do you have childlike visions of toys and celebration with the people you love? Or nightmares about pressure, loneliness, alienation and annoying relatives.

I can tell you there were many times after my divorce that I asked myself those questions. My kids had moved out. I was alone. Holidays were just painful reminders of the life I no longer had. So I worked.

I worked long hours just to avoid the malls with all that chirpy pain-in-the-neck holiday merriment. Bah, humbug!

The truth was, it hurt too much to celebrate. And I was the loser.

But you know what? Celebration is a ritual of life. It gives us a set of patterns, symbols and actions that mark important events and transitions in our lives. Right now, we re about to celebrate the ending of one year and the beginning of the next.

It s important to do that. It s important to mark these times in our lives. You might say, It s just another day. And that might be true. But there s also a spiritual reality at this time that we need to recognize, if only to celebrate the incredible, wonderful miracle of You.

We can think of sacred ritual as the intersection of ordinary reality and spiritual reality. Ritual provides a safe framework, or container, for us to experience the sacred. …Rachel Pollock – The Power of Ritual

Over the years, I ve found a number of different rituals and practices that have given me that connection, that spiritual reality. None of them are time-consuming or difficult. In fact, I can honestly say they restored my sense of joy and wonder.

Releasing the past.
This is the first step to recognizing endings and embracing beginnings. It doesn t mean we have to forget all that came before. It just means that we re releasing all the negative energy and stress from the past. When we take time to release the energy of disappointment or hurt, we open ourselves to forgiveness and love.

Write out the names of any limiting feelings you might be having. It could be sadness, or guilt, or a feeling of lack. If there are a lot of them, put each on a separate piece of paper. Then take the first one and burn it. Then the next, and the next. Until they re all gone. You may throw them into a fireplace, or burn them over a candle. As you watch them go up in smoke, rising upward and leaving your heart, feel the sense of release. Isn t it wonderful?

Invite new feelings to take the place of the things you ve just let go – love, sharing, friendship, creativity, or whatever you want more of in your life. You just created a vacuum, and nature rushes in to fill a vacuum. Make sure it s filled with all the good stuff you want in your life. Then seal the deal with another ritual.

Celebrate each new feeling with a sip of a warm drink: hot spiced cider, perhaps, or hot chocolate, or mulled wine. Be sure you savor the taste and sensation as it warms and fills you. Know that these new qualities you are inviting into your life are now part of you and will grow with you in the coming year.

During the season of giving and receiving, it is easy to get caught up in the material hustle. So ask yourself: why the gifts? When you stop and think about it, they don t have to be an obligation. Or worse yet, a burden. If you choose to buy gifts, recognize they re just a human way of showing our love and care. They re an opportunity to show our gratitude for what comes to us.

Think of other ways to express your deepest gratitude for all that you ve been given. Allow yourself to notice it all around you, then honor it with your gratitude the moment it comes to you. This can be a game you can play by yourself or with others.

Every time you smell a holiday scent, like cinnamon, turkey, evergreens, or cider, think of a specific thing for which you are grateful. Or you might want to pick out holiday symbols, like snowmen, stars, angels, reindeer or Santa, to trigger your sense of gratitude. Have fun coming up with ideas and appreciating the rich symbolism we have during the holidays.

You ve already worked on releasing the hold the past has upon you. Now, as you get ready for the New Year, start fresh by releasing whatever hold you may have on the past.

Release any negative thoughts you may have, or those people who don t support your excellence and growth. Take time to acknowledge any darkness in your heart and replace it with light and possibility so that, like the evergreens, you face the New Year fully alive and ready for its wonderful opportunities.



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  1. Scott on December 16, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    The holidays are always tough for me. I had great holiday memories as a kid, but as an adult things changed. Mainly, they changed for the worse due to I no longer celebrate the holidays that my family celebrates, so there is no family gathering for me to attend. I agree with your advice, but I still feel blue this time of year. I wish my family could celebrate all the holidays together, but they are unwilling to celebrate with me.